The monk who inadvertently conjured up the game of curling to settle a wager in 16th Century Scotland could hardly have envisaged it catching on in as far-flung a place as Timbuktu.
But according to viewing data over the past 12 months compiled by Youtube, that improbable scenario is now reality.
Over the past year, curling was the most viewed Winter Olympic sport across vast swathes of Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia. The “roaring game” – a name given to depict the rumbling sound the 44-pound granite stones make as they slides across the ice – will also sweep into the Pyeongchang Olympics as the world’s fastest growing sport.
Another unassuming widespread favourite is bobsledding, which enjoys popularity in much of Central and South America, Asia and the southern portion of Africa.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, hockey took the top spot as the most popular Winter Olympic sport in Russia, Canada, the United States and a handful of Scandinavian countries.
Seen on a map, hockey appears to dominate the world due to the immense land mass of Russia and Canada. But outside of a few other ex-soviet Eastern European countries, the sport pales in comparison to that of the curling and bobsledding.
Other notable mentions that aren’t widespread favourites include the luge, which is popular in a handful of well-known countries, including Spain, Peru, the Philippines and New Zealand.
Snowboarding, which was introduced to the Winter Olympics program between 1992 and 2002, has mass appeal in Australia, Great Britain and Iceland.
Speed skating topped the bill as the most searched sport in both South Korea, the host of this year’s games, and China, which will host the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.